It’s hard to be led, when you’re still being driven
If you’ve ever tried to push a car with no driver at the wheel, you already know the problems of being pushed. There’s a reason that cars are towed from in front, rather than pushed from behind. But more on that in a minute.
A summary of this post
I spent over 8 years using all my skills to to gain attention and validation for myself as a musician in a band. This need for validation and attention served as my steering as I was pushed by the need to please people and the drive to accomplish great things. I couldn’t even see God’s plan for my life because it didn’t involve the things that I thought would bring me the most attention. Once God healed the areas that caused me to be driven, and I learned to follow his leading, I was able to follow him along a path that brought me more fulfillment than I ever experienced while being driven and pushed.
Where He’s Led Me
Over the past 16 months, I’ve been creating blues guitar lessons and posting them on YouTube, and selling them to like-minded guitarists around the world.
As of this writing, these lessons have attracted over 2 million views on YouTube, and draw about 10,000 people a month to my website. I get emails from people every day that would, and sometimes do, make a grown man shed a tear of joy. Emails telling me about how someone picked up the guitar after 20 years and is finally playing the way they always wanted, or how a proud dad is watching his 6 year old son learning things he never thought possible.
Most of the skills I needed to accomplish this I had learned long before I ever started to use them this way.
Where I Was Driven
Being driven can make you do some crazy things. The slightest bit of ’tilt’ in your wheels can cause you to veer off course, at the mercy of whatever drives you.
For the longest time, I thought I was going to be the next Stevie Ray Vaughan. Not once did I stop to consider why. I realize today that I had a massive need for validation. My guitar playing skills were what I felt made me special, and I intended to prove it to the world.
My steering was off.
With such a void in my life, the constant push to please people, and the pressure to accomplish, I was pushed again and again, driven off course by the loneliness that ached at my very core.
I spent 10 years of my life starting bands, playing a few gigs, writing songs about stuff that only mattered to me, and constantly wondering when my ship was going to come in and rescue me from this life of obscurity that I was condemned to with all the ordinary people of the world. I was destined for greatness, and all my skills were testament to that fact.
I made websites, advertisements, logos. I converted a spare room or basement in every house I rented into a recording space for my ‘art’. In 2001 I recorded a CD and played every instrument and sang everything myself. By the time I had spent $2000 getting it finished, I realized that it sucked and over 900 of them still sit in boxes in my attic.
In 2005 I recorded another live CD of a concert I had been planning for 6 months. The quality was mediocre at best, yet I sank another $2000 into getting another set of boxes full of CDs for my attic, again.
I prided myself on my songwriting skills. I wrote complex songs that didn’t groove, and abandoned the music that I really loved. The strangest things is that I was taking songwriting cues from other songwriters who’s music I didn’t even really enjoy.
Being pushed to please people caused me to expend my time and energy on projects that I had not even consulted my wife about. For many months, I had people coming into our house 2 or 3 times a week to record. All because I felt a false sense of obligation to people that I loved, a slight misalignment in my steering that allowed me to be driven off the path that God would have had me on.
One day my wife asked me what my 5 year plan was, and I was brought face to face with the reality that I had no vision for my life. I had no 5 year plan. I was completely caught up in what I could do right now to make myself known to the world.
When I Stalled
It’s a vast oversimplification to say that I read some books and was fixed, but that’s how it started. I learned some things about my faith that I hadn’t known before, and before you know it, I stopped caring about getting a record deal or getting famous. I stopped feeling obligated to please people, or even to participate in most things I was doing. I just wanted to stop. So I did for a while. And it felt good.
But that’s not where it ended.
The Pulling Begins
In October 21, 2007 I put up my first guitar lesson on YouTube, and in less than 4 months I was selling hundreds of lessons a month to people around the world. I didn’t start with a plan, I had no agenda. I actually felt like I could barely keep up with the growing success of the lessons.
Slowly I began to see myself being pulled along a path that I had never seen. I had answered a simple question from God that night when he asked me “Why aren’t you putting guitar lessons on YouTube?” I wasn’t driven to do it, I just did what I felt he had asked me to do.
As the lessons grew more and more successful, I tried to turn the steering wheel a couple times, but when you’re being pulled by a force stronger than your ability to turn the wheel, the pull straightens out your steering. His leading kept me from getting bogged down in things that would only take me off course. The vision of where he was leading me was so compelling that it caused me to stop putting my hands on the wheel and just trust the pull.
It was as if he was in control.
I’m not going to suggest that God is the only source of pulling. Certainly people who don’t know God are pulled by great dreams of things to come. But I truly believe that God’s pull is the one that will bring the most fulfillment in any person’s life.
But it’s hard to be led, when you’re still being driven.